Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time Travels

It’s been 1 month since I have been here. I can’t believe time has gone by so fast!
Things have been improving. The heat isn’t so monstrous anymore although I still can’t go any where without my UV umbrella or water bottle. The territory is looking more familiar and I’m getting better at telling the drivers where the Kingdom Hall or bible studies are.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I love the food here! It’s like an 'Indian-Caribbean' style. Since the population is almost half Indian (Hindu) and half African descent, the two cooking styles intermix and create their own which is unique and delicious! And since the country is considered to be part of the Caribbean, many spices are used in cooking. Yum!

I made bread for the first time in my life!

Shemeniel, the local sister who is living with me, is a good cook and has been teaching some Guyanese dishes. My favorite is Chana which is the local name for chickpeas. They are cooked till they’re soft, mixed with garlic, onions and a handful of different spices and it’s AMAZING! Rice is very popular and is served with every meal. Curry is also very popular and it’s cooked in a variety of different ways. So far I’ve had eggplant (as known as ‘ba-lan-gi’) & chicken curry, fish curry and duck curry. My favorite was the duck curry which was cooked by Shemeniel’s parents (the duck came from my their backyard!).

(It was one of the white ones)

Learning to shop at the market has also been fun. The local market is Rosehall Market and they have everything! Since most of the vendors sell at the same price, you look for the better quality of the vegetables, fruits, meats, etc. Everything is fresh.
There are no designated bus or taxi stops, if you want a bus or taxi you wait on the side of the road and put your arm out to pick you up. Taxis are mostly for short trips and buses are for longer trips. Rides are emotional roller coasters. Some driver’s are heavy on the gas pedal. Even though there are speed limits, driver’s choose their own speed. I’ve only been on a couple buses where I am actually scared for my life. The good thing is you can tell the driver to slow down, and he will, at least until you get off. But rather than telling the driver where you want off, you tell the bus “Conductor.” He is in charge of collecting the fare, looking out for passengers for pick up and telling the driver where to stop to let people off, and of course ... the music. Music volume varies from bus to bus.
The music is a sort of R’n’B mixed with Reggae. It’s definitely got an “island” feel. Most songs are Guyana originals but sometimes you come across a Guyanese remake of a popular American song or an American artist original. I’ve heard a Guyana remake of Michael Buble’s “Home” it was a really good remake, I'm keeping my eyes open for a copy of it.
There is always something to do but the pace of life is very relaxed here. I have busy service days but I never feel rushed or overwhelmed. I just feel productive. Here’s what my week looks like: Monday is cleaning, laundry and family worship, Tuesday I conduct 4 studies, Wednesday Shemeniel conducts 4 studies, Thursday I conduct another 2 studies and then meeting at 5:00pm, Friday is market day, Saturday is door-to-door and RVs and finally Sunday is meeting at 10:00am and Shemeniel conducts a study afterwards. I feel tired when I get home but it’s a very satisfying sort of tired. I know, and feel, that I did something meaningful and that it makes Jehovah happy, which in turn makes me feel good about myself. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Meeting for field service

The most recent experience of this was with Marie. A mother of 2 teenagers and of Hindu background. She is one of the studies that Lara gave me. Her challenge is that she doesn’t read (...yet, we are working on this as well) but she is quick to grasp points. About 2 weeks ago, we were studying the chapter in the BT about who rules this world. Before starting I asked her who she thought ruled the world, she said “God.” She said that she recently had this conversation with her husband who didn’t believe that God ruled the world. So as we started our discussion on the chapter, we read about Satan offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world. I then asked her if she could give me something that didn’t belong to her, she said no. So, I asked, “If Satan was offering these kingdoms to Jesus, who did they belong to Satan or Jehovah?” She said “Satan,” then we read some of the scriptures that say who the ruler (or god) of the world is. Then I asked her about the sort of behavior we see in people today, she said “It’s all bad attitude.” Then I said “So if Satan was offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world and we read that the bible calls Satan the “ruler” and “god” of this world and we see all the suffering, who then is ruling the world, Jehovah or Satan?” I could see Marie putting the puzzle together in her head and she finally says “Satan!” Her reaction was so funny we all laughed about it and then she says “Oh no, that means I have to tell my husband he was right!” Not only was it a funny experience but it was very gratifying to be able to teach her a bible truth and see her reaction. It’s unlike any feeling I’ve ever had.
I posted a photo of the house but in case anyone is curious it is a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom. It’s hardwood floors throughout the house. Big windows. There’s a balcony where the hammock and washer are. Mike and Lara put a lot of work in to improving it. It was unoccupied for at least a year before they moved in so you can imagine how bad it was.
There is a sister from England coming next Friday. She’ll be here for the next 5 weeks and she’ll be staying with Shemeniel and me. Then in December there are 2 sisters from Pennsylvania coming for 3 months. So that’s 3 new need greaters in the next 2 months! Besides me there is a need greater couple from England (Chris & Naomi Hayes) and a missionary couple from Canada (Todd & Barbara Hollenbeck). There are also 2 sisters from England (Loraine & Sarah Giles, mom & daughter) and 1 sister from America (Amy Norbaum) who are in sign language. We all meet together.
We have the Annual Pioneer Meeting and Circuit Assembly coming up so I hope to have more photos and experiences to share. I miss you all and I hope you are doing well.

P.S. I've added more pictures to the photo album. Just click on the link above to view them. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

First Impressions

Quick note: To the left is a link to view all my photos. The connection is very slow so I decided to create an album and just upload the pictures once. I will keep adding so please check for updates from time to time. Please feel free leave any thoughts or comments! OK, let's begin...

My flight departed Portland Thursday September 23rd at 6:00am; I arrived in Georgetown Guyana Friday at 6:30am: A 24-hour trip! (A 5 hour flight from Portland to JFK, a 10 hour layover in JFK, a 5 hour flight into Georgetown Guyana and a 3 hour taxi drive to Mike and Lara's house).

The first day here I slept. It was very hot and the fan provided little refreshment but I was so tired I slept through the heat. Lara counted 18 hours, but I must add that I didn't sleep solid the whole way through. I woke up Saturday morning feeling slightly disorientated and jet lagged but I got myself out in service. Our service group met outside Clypso Hut (which is a bar and grill, hah!) just minutes from our house.


Service here is very different from the States. For one, people actually talk to you. The local brothers call it a "Pioneer's Paradise" and I completely agree. Even though many have their own religions (Christian, Hindu and some Muslim) they all listen to what you have to share with them. There is a lot of respect for the Bible here. Since most homes have gates, rather than knocking on a front door, we yell out "Inside! Inside!" And rather than writing down house numbers you write down very descriptive notes such as "Bush Lot Village, road next to second bus shelter, 6 houses down from road, lots of flowers…" etc. It's quite amusing but very helpful for finding our way back.

We got a really good call my first morning, a girl named Ann. She is 16 years old and had very good knowledge of the Bible. I’m still getting used to the accent here, so Lara did most of the talking. She invited us into their house, which is really outside. The homes here are all on stilts because of flooding so the Guyanese use the lower space as an outdoor living room area. It shaded so it’s refreshing and this is where everyone hangs out for most of the day. Lara showed her the Truth tract and Ann picked the question about what happens to us when we die. Lara says this is a very common question since there is a high suicide rate among young people. We spent about 45 minutes talking with her. Finally we had to leave and told her we would come back next week to discuss more of the subject as well as what hope there is for those who have died. We met her mom and dad who were both really very nice.

A local brother gave me a call of his, a woman named Rachel who he had placed a Bible Teach book with. Lara and I called on her and we started a study! While we were at Rachel's though, the heat got to me pretty bad. I suddenly felt light headed and dizzy, I thought I was going to pass out! I prayed to Jehovah I could at least make it home. Rachel got me a cold glass of red drink (strawberry soda) and some delicious home cooked Indian food. It had rice, tuna and some greens with lots of spices and seasoning. It was so good! I immediately felt better, enough to make it home, but I felt so embarrassed. But Rachel was so hospitable that she didn’t mind and was glad to help.

So that was my first day day in Guyana.

Sunday meeting was also a treat. The congregation is about 50 publishers but Michael says they get about 80-90 in attendance on Sundays (bible studies). It was cool to hear the public talk, the watchtower study and the comments with accents. After the meeting I got to meet more of the friends who already knew my name since Lara and Michael had told them I was coming. They are lovely congregation! They also threw Michael and Lara a surprise going away party. It was so nice to see and hear how much the congregation loves them and are sad to see them go.

I also got to go a town called New Amsterdam, it’s about 30 minutes from our village. I got to see the market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables.


We’ve had 2 storms since I’ve been here, all with lighting, thunder and buckets of rain. It’s very exciting! One of those storms was during Thursday night meeting. The power went out and the meeting was conducted with flash lights. It was very touching to hear everyone singing without any music, it was so cool.

It is very important to bring your flashlight (called ‘torches’) to Thursday night meetings. It gets dark around 5:30pm and there are NO street lights. So by the end of the meeting (7pm) we all pull out our ‘torches’ and walk in the dark seeing only directly in front of us. And last Thursday, because it had just stormed, not only was it dark but very muddy. I, of course, wore the wrong shoes. I will try to upload the video I took of this.

Some other cool things about Guyana: The cars drive on the opposite side of the road, like in England, and the steering wheel is also on the opposite side of the car. Guyana is considered to be part of the Caribbean. The accent is a bit hard to understand, especially Creoles which, to me, sounds like a different language. Even though they speak English here, some of words are different than what we use in the States. For example:

“Mad” = Crazy
“Vexed” = Angry
“Quarrel” = Argument
“Wind” = Pass gas
“Breeze” = Wind
“Fine” = Skinny
“Thick” = Fat
“Babes” = Girl
“Flu” = General Sickness

Some of the locals get a confused look on their faces when I tell them I’m from America. They seem to think that all American’s look like Lara (blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin). We have to explain to them that I’m actually Mexican but was raised in America and that American’s come in all sorts of all colors and shades.

This week has been a blast. I feel myself adjusting quite nicely. My biggest adjustment is getting used to the heat, it’s very humid here. Even with sunscreen I'm getting very dark with all the sun I'm getting! The pace of life and the way of doing things are different here but I am excited to learn the ropes and become a local! I can’t thank Jehovah or my Portland friends enough for your wonderful help, support and encouragement in this new aspect of my life and ministry.

I miss you all and please email me and let me know of life in Portland!